George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 23 March 1777

To Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Head Quarters Morris Town 23d March 1777


I am honored with yours of the 8th and 10th instant the first accompanying an account of the Committee of Simsbury against prisoners who were sent there by my order—There is no part of the charge to be objected against, but that of £9.6.0. said to be for the expence and trouble of the Committee themselves—I cannot see how either could have been incurred in so trivial a matter, or if any, that it could have been so large a proportion. However, I think the State had better pay what is reasonable and right, and make a Continental charge of it.

I wish you may not have been deceived in the forwardness of your Regiments, for I can assure you the returns fall far short of what was given out—Chandler’s, Swift’s and Charles Webb’s, by General Parsons’s letter of the 6th instant, had only eighty men each, though the latter sent his Son down some weeks ago, and drew four hundred Stand of Arms, assuring me, that his Father had as many men ready; None of the other Regiments were half full1—Durkee’s had only 140 Men—From this State of facts it is evident, that if the most spirited exertions are not made, the Enemy will take the Field before we can draw a sufficient head of men together to oppose them—I am informed that the State of Massachusetts have called upon their different Districts to furnish as many men, as are sufficient to make up their Quota of the eighty eight Battalions, and that they have succeeded, by this mode, far better than if they had proceeded in their usual line of enlistment—I dont know whether your State can exercise such powers, but if you can, you could never make use of them at a better time—From the present appearance of the weather, the Spring promises to be a forward one, and from every account, the Enemy only wait for good weather and good Roads to take the Field.

The reinforcement of Russians spoke of by Governor Wentworth has been mentioned in several letters that have been thrown out, I believe with an intent to divide and intimidate—For although I do not doubt but they would employ Russians or any other Barbarians, to accomplish their designs, I do not think there is a probability that they can be here shortly, if at all.

Governor Livingston informed me a few days ago,2 that he understood, that Governor Franklin, by some means or other, continued to carry on a correspondence with Mr Hugh Wallace of New York; and a Gentleman of the name of Livingston who went into New York and took protection, but not liking his situation, returned again, informed upon oath, that he heard that Governor Franklin granted protections to such as would take them, in Connecticut; and that one Shackles of Middletown carried on a correspondence with Miles Sherbrook of New York—This, Livingston says he had from Sherbrook’s Clerk—I dont know that the foregoing amounts to positive proof against Govr Franklin, but it ought, at least, to put you upon your guard, and have him narrowly watched.3 I have the Honor to be Sir Your most obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1John Chandler (1736–1796) of Newtown, Conn., served as the lieutenant colonel of Col. Gold Selleck Silliman’s Connecticut militia regiment from June to December 1776 and as colonel of the 8th Connecticut Regiment from January 1777 to March 1778. Heman Swift (1733–1814), a French and Indian War veteran from Cornwall, Conn., who commanded a Connecticut state regiment from July to December 1776, was commissioned colonel of the 7th Connecticut Regiment on 1 Jan. 1777. Swift served to the end of the war and was brevetted brigadier general in September 1783.

2GW is referring to William Livingston’s letter to him of 17 Mar. 1777, which has not been found (see GW to Livingston, 1 April).

3For the deposition of Henry G. Livingston, who appeared before the New York committee for detecting and defeating conspiracies on 15 Feb. 1777, see Minutes of the N.Y. Committee for Detecting Conspiracies, 1:119–25. Livingston spent several days in New York City in late December 1776 after seeking British protection at the urging of Hugh Wallace, a New York City merchant and Loyalist who was being held by the Americans in Connecticut. In addition to the rumor mentioned in the letter regarding William Franklin’s alleged role in granting protections and pardons in Connecticut, Livingston said that while in New York he had heard that two members of the New York convention were planning to defect to the British and that the empress of Russia had contracted with the British to send 18,500 Russian soldiers to supplement the British forces in America. Livingston also gave information to the committee about the strength of the British and Hessian forces in New York, Howe’s plans to attack the American fortifications on the Hudson River and form a junction with the British army in Canada, the construction of flat-bottomed boats by the British for use on the Delaware River, the role of several prominent Loyalists in the city, and the price of goods in the city.

Nathaniel Shaler of Middletown, Conn., a merchant friend of GW’s former aidede-camp Col. Samuel Blachley Webb and a captain in the Connecticut militia, was accused of being disloyal to the American cause by his business associates. Shaler later became a merchant in New York City. Miles Sherbrook (1771–1805) was an English merchant from New York City who had been detained and sent to Peekskill, N.Y., before the Battle of Long Island in August 1776 and later paroled to Middletown.

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